July 23rd, 2007
Fryer’s Roses, Cheshire

Fryer's Roses Cheshire UK
Rows and rows of roses at Fryer’s Roses.

On the last day of my vacation, Margaret treated me to a gardeners’ field trip to Fryer’s Roses which is located only a few miles from her house. Fryer’s both sells and breeds roses. It’s been racking up the awards this last decade, receiving in 1999 The Queen Mother’s International Rose Award and then going on to win gold medals at Chelsea Show, Hampton Court Show, and Tatton Park Show. (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, rent that movie Greenfingers.)

Established in 1912, Fryer’s remains a family business and is run by Gareth Fryer, grandson of the founder. He lives in a very nice house on the grounds of the garden centre. Margaret and I talk about how disheartening it must be to try to run a nursery business in a cold, wet summer like this one.

The first thing we did when we arrived (free parking! –that’s so unusual in England) was rush over to the roses growing in the fields.

Fryer's Roses Cheshire UK
No amount of mud was going to stop us from viewing the roses nor did a the little bit of rain dampen our spirits (although it did make it hard to take photos).

Rather than in display gardens, the roses (mostly Hybrid Teas) are grown in long (labelled, yay!) rows. I don’t grow any Hybrid Teas myself, so almost all of these roses were unknown to me. I liked the form and color of A Whiter Shade of Pale. The Floribunda Alderley Park caught my eye but I was particularly impressed with Champagne Moment with creamy apricot colored flowers and very green and glossy leaves showing absolutely no black spot despite the weeks of rain. And it was very fragrant.

Fryer's Roses Cheshire UK
Not all the roses fared so well in the wet conditions plaguing England this summer. This is “Pride of Cheshire”.

I was intrigued by the Fryer’s-bred Belle Epoque which has a very unusual bi-toned color. I couldn’t decide if I like it or not but I think that if I grew it, it would win me over because it is so different than anything I grow now. I got a nice glossy catalog from the man in the rose department to peruse on the airplane. I can dream of roses even if they aren’t likely to be available in the US. The rose man cautioned that roses that grow well in England might not take favorably to Texas. Don’t I know it!

After our tramp through the mud and flowers, Margaret took me to lunch in the cafe. We had sandwiches (I had to try watercress since I was in England) and coffee and a scrumptious dessert. It was raining and the cafe was packed. I can’t imagine going to a cafe in a nursery in Austin but it made so much sense in England where it rains a lot and the general lack of parking makes doing everything in one stop sensible.

After lunch we wandered around the massive garden centre, which includes plants, tools and chemicals, garden books, and a gift shop. (Austinites imagine Breed & Co.) We sniffed the confederate jasmine and I was transported home. We looked greedily at the passionflower vines and the clematis. Indoors, I was especially fascinated by the local foods, marketed as “The True Taste of Cheshire”. I saw my favorite, Tyrell parsnip crisps and discovered discovered Moffat Dollop. I passed, this time, because I’d already bought Moffat Toffee on this trip.

Fryer’s also has a section of glass conservatories, children playscapes, outdoor furniture, grills and heaters (even Mexican chimineas), landscape paving and gravels, pots, and statuary. Of all the nurseries/garden centers in the Central Texas area, Fryer’s reminded me most of Wildseed Farms (although Fryer’s is a bit more upscale…upmarket, they say in England.)

If I lived in Knutsford, I imagine that I’d go to Fryer’s Roses frequently just to have a cup of coffee with a friend and then walk around chatting and picking up odds and ends for the garden or the kitchen and gifts for just about anyone.

by M Sinclair Stevens

6 Responses to post “Fryer’s Roses, Cheshire”

  1. From Kate (Canada):

    It looks as if you had a good day of roses even if it was a bit wet… Moffat’s Dollop looks tasty. Yum!

    We had a wonderful time! It was one of the best days of this trip. — mss

  2. From Pam/Digging (Austin):

    Thanks for the tour. It sounds like a lovely day, despite the chill and the rain. Does Margaret ever come to Austin? If so, you might return the favor by taking her to the Antique Rose Emporium in Brenham (and the Blue Bell ice cream factory).

    Margaret will be visiting us again in October and you’d better bet that we were already discussing our trip to the Antique Rose Emporium, the Natural Gardener, the Great Outdoors, and our favorite–Gardens. — mss

  3. From Annie in Austin:

    The news stories from England this morning are very sad – who would have imagined that Texas and Newbridge would be having similar weather problems this summer!

    ‘Champagne Moment’ is just lovely.

    Moffat toffee sounds pretty lovely, too!

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

    It’s weird that both places I call home are having serious problems with flooding this year. We’ve been looking at the BBC and the Guardian online and the photos are devastating. — mss

  4. From Carol (Indiana):

    I’ve also watched the reports of flooding in England and I can’t believe it, so devastating.

    I’d love to have a garden center around here that was a destination like that, with a place to sit and relax with a tall iced tea and a dessert.

    Carol at May Dreams Gardens

    Much nicer than going to the mall. We have some nice boutique shops here in Austin that carry high-end gardening stuff (Breed & Co, and Cornerstone), and lots of great independent nurseries, but nothing that combines the size and scope of Fryer’s. — mss

  5. From Kris at Blithewold:

    Here we have malls for one-stop shopping; in the UK they have garden centers. (I know where I’d rather shop!. I can’t believe the rain either–and the devastating lack of rain in other parts of the world. Disturbing. Frightening even.

    On a lighter note, I read “Moffat Dollop” and wanted some for the name alone. Then I looked at what it is — it’s genius. Also I’m putting ‘Champagne Moment’ on my search-for list… Thank you!

    Looking up the info for Moffat Dollop, I can across another intriguing Moffat-related product: Moffat Chuckle. What really made me laugh today, though, was that I saw Tyrrell’s Parsnip Crisps at Central Market here in Austin. Wow! Amazing!

  6. From Kevin ft lauderdale:

    I saw your weblog and you didn’t know the name of a white flower – you said “I fell under the enchantment of this mystery flower.”

    I have it and love it. White Butterfly Ginger.